Hatchet Job of the Year Award nominates the best, most scathing reviews

Scathing book reviews don’t exactly help get readers into bookstores, but they do help us avoid potential stinkers — and mostly, they can be really fun to read. The Omnivore‘s Hatchet Job of the Year Awards dole out honors to the most acid-penned critics and dishonors to the authors on the receiving end of the literary spanking. Last year’s prize went to Adam Mars-Jones for his (in my opinion, completely valid) take-down of By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham. Here are this year’s nominees:

Craig Brown on The Odd Couple by Richard Bradford: “It is a triumph of ‘cut and paste’ – indeed, such a triumph that by now Bradford must be able to press the Command button and C for Copy simultaneously in his sleep.”

Ron Charles on Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis: “Here, Amis seems unwilling to exert more effort than it would take to change the channel from Jersey Shore to Half Pint Brawlers.”

Richard Evans on Hitler: A Short Biography by A.N. Wilson: “Stale, unoriginal material … banal and cliche-ridden historical judgments…”

Claire Harman on Treasure Island by Andrew Motion: “It’s not just that this plot is both boring and implausible, the characters as wooden as absent Silver’s leg and the sentiments screamingly anachronistic (the good guys are all 21st century liberals), but at every turn the former Poet Laureate clogs the works with verbiage.”

Zoe Heller on Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie: “Some readers may find, by the end of Joseph Anton, that the world feels rather smaller and grimmer than before. But they should not be unduly alarmed. The world is as large and as wide as it ever was; it’s just Rushdie who got small.”

Camilla Long on Aftermath by Rachel Cusk: “Cusk herself seems extraordinary — a brittle little dominatrix and peerless narcissist who exploits her husband and her marriage with relish.”

Allan Massie on The Divine Comedy by Craig Raine: “it isn’t a novel, no matter what author and publisher choose to call it. There is no real narrative interest and the characters are no more than names.”

Suzanne Moore on Vagina by Naomi Wolfe: “My problem with Wolf is longstanding and is not about how she looks or climaxes – but it is about how she thinks, or rather doesn’t. She comes in a package that is marketed as feminism but is actually breathlessly written self-help. Her oeuvre, if I can use this word, is basically memoir, in which she struggles to tell some heroic truth that many others have already told us. The great trick is to present this material as new, and to somehow speak on behalf of all women when she is infinitely privileged and sheltered.”

What hatchet jobs do you agree/disagree with?

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